Wally Backman has put together a rather complete and respected body of work as a minor league manager within the Mets organization. After four years piloting the Brooklyn Cyclones, Binghamton Mets, Buffalo Bisons and Las Vegas 51’s, Wally could very well become a major league option once again for several teams around the leagues. At the very least, his record and success, short of a championship, should warrant interviews.
Backman was already managing in Binghamton when he interviewed to replace the departed Jerry Manuel after the 2011 season. Wally was eventually passed over in favor of another internal option, Terry Collins, but agreed to manage the Mets AAA-affiliate, then still located in Buffalo. In what proved to be a great decision by Wally Backman, he agreed to stay on for a second season as their AAA manager, now located in Vegas. Why great? The 2013 regular season solidified his resume.
In four seasons, Wally Backman to date has amassed a 265-239 record. With a 52-24 record, he led the A-short season Brooklyn Cyclones to the New York-Penn League’s top record, and clinched the 2010 division title, but fell short of a championship. In 2011, he posted a 65-76 record with the Binghamton Mets, and a 67-76 record in 2012 with Buffalo. This year, his Las Vegas 51’s finished the regular season as one of the top two teams of the Pacific Coast League. On a personal note, the 51’s clinched Wally Backman’s second division title. The post-season awaits them, but already based on this body of work, I think we can all assume with certainty, Wally Backman will not return next season to manage the Las Vegas 51’s. If Wally does stay with the Mets in a continuing minor league capacity next season, I will be very, very surprised.
Wally Backman stayed with the organization because he wants to eventually manage in Flushing. Some argue he couldn’t and wouldn’t have gotten another job elsewhere – not at the time he originally interviewed. That may be fair considering his somewhat spotty past and not enough separation. But he certainly has paid his dues over the last four years, and turned himself into a prime candidate.
Meanwhile, Sandy Alderson has long refused to address Terry Collins’ status until after the 2013 regular season is over. If you think Terry Collins has done a good job keeping a team decimated by injuries together, and still moving in a positive direction, then what say you of the job Wally Backman has done continuing to keep his team contending while faced with a steady departure of players back- filling the big club? Wally Backman even got Ike Davis swinging a decent bat for the month he had him in Vegas.
Somehow, I feel as if the obligatory end of season player exit interviews will weigh heavily in the decision to retain Terry Collins, or not. That’s just speculation on my part. But I think we all can agree when I say Sandy Alderson has treated Terry Collins’ status like a civilian inquiry into Area 51- pardon the pun. To Alderson’s credit, we continue to have no idea whether either one of these men will pilot the New York Mets next season and beyond. Just so we’re straight, I want Wally Backman to be the next Mets manager as a simple matter of preference. That said, I offer no case as to why Terry Collins should be let go. I’m not even sure how Sandy Alderson would even initiate such a conversation, but he is on record saying he wants to see “a finish” while the club still plays for Collins. I’ve come to appreciate Terry. He’s feisty, garners respect, and I like the way he’s dealt with the media throughout his years. But if Sandy Alderson is in fact open to promoting Wally Backman, I say move swiftly, because I’m sure he has appeared on other team’s radars by now.